Pixel Scroll 1/29/19 Dill Pixels

(1) TIPTREE ON TV? Jennifer Kent, who directed the exceptional horror film The Babadook, and is currently at Sundance screening her second film, the historical drama The Nightingale, is developing a project based on the life and stories of James Tiptree Jr. / Alice Sheldon: “Sundance 2019 Interview: Babadook Director Jennifer Kent on Her New Film, The Nightingale” at Rogerebert.com.

And Tiptree?

I don’t know where to start. There was this writer of short science fiction stories in ’60s and ’70s who was very feted, and of the level of Philip K. Dick, or Ursula Le Guin. He was really creating the most powerful stories of gender and of being an outsider. But they were so potent, very prescient; because it’s almost the world we’re living in now. So they were written 50 years ago. They’re incredibly relevant still, and then he was sort of well known. His stories were well known, but no one knew who he was for 10 years, and then eventually someone uncovered his identity to be a woman in her 60s, in I think Virginia. This woman’s story is unbelievable. Unbelievable. And she was a genius. So I want to tell her story.

So you’ll make something episodic at a network?

Yeah, but including her short stories within. It’s not a straight biopic; so aliens from her stories inhabit her true world, and then she will be in the world of her stories, and it’s so exciting to me. It’s science fiction, which I love. I came across that because I was being given a lot of science fiction scripts. And I thought, “Where are the female science fiction stories?” So I Googled “female science fiction”, and I came across her! It was so hard to get the rights. And then I got all the rights to these stories, so it’s just meant to be. I could sit for hours and tell you how we got these rights. I’m working with producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who is wonderful. He’s engaged with a company called Imperative, and so that’s the deal at the moment. But Imperative has thrown some money at the development, but we want to keep control of it. So we didn’t want to go to HBO and have it sit on a shelf and not get made, for example. So, we want to come with a pilot and a bible, so I’m working on that at the moment.

(2) STOKERCON UK. In April 2020 the Horror Writers Association’s annual event, StokerCon, will be held in the UK, and A.K. Benedict will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Taking place in Scarborough, just down the coast from Whitby – the town that provided so much of the inspiration for Stoker’s iconic Dracula – this is an event not to be missed for writers and readers of horror fiction.

The event is delighted to confirm its Mistress of Ceremonies for the weekend will be author A.K. Benedict, who will be launching the weekend’s proceedings. A.K. Benedict was educated at Cambridge, University of Sussex and Clown School. Described by the Sunday Express as ‘one of the new stars of crime fiction with a supernatural twist’, AK Benedict’s debut novel, The Beauty of Murder, was shortlisted for an eDunnit award and is in development for TV by Company Pictures. Her second novel from Orion, The Evidence of Ghosts, is a love song to London and shows her obsession with all things haunted. Her radio drama includes Doctor Who and Torchwood plays for Big Finish and a modern adaptation of M.R. James’ Lost Hearts for Bafflegab/Audible.

(3) ODYSSEY WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIPS. Here is an overview of “2019 Odyssey Writing Workshop Scholarship Opportunities”. The Odyssey Writing Workshop is an acclaimed, six-week program for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror held each summer in New Hampshire. Writers apply from all over the world; only fifteen are admitted.

  • George R.R. Martin sponsors the Miskatonic Scholarship, awarded each year to a promising writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror, a type of fiction Martin loves and wants to encourage. The scholarship covers full tuition, textbook, and housing. Martin says, “It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.” Applicants must demonstrate financial need in a separate application. Full details at the link.
  • Bestselling author and Odyssey graduate Sara King is sponsoring the Parasite Publications Character Awards to provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend this summer’s Odyssey. The Parasite Publications Character Awards, three scholarships in the amounts of $2,060 (full tuition), $500, and $300, will be awarded to the three members of the incoming class who are deemed extraordinarily strong character writers, creating powerful, emotional characters that grab the reader and don’t let go. No separate application is required.
  • The new Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship will be offered to a Canadian writer admitted to Odyssey. This scholarship, funded by alumni and friends of Chris, will cover $900 of tuition.
  • One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing for guest visits. Odyssey reimburses $800 of the work/study student’s tuition.

(4) FREE READ. Arizona State University has published Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction, Volume II, an anthology featuring 10 short stories from ASU’s 2018 global climate fiction contest, plus a foreword by Kim Stanley Robinson, who also served as the lead judge for the contest.

The stories explore climate chaos, its aftermath, and possible ways forward through a variety of genres and styles, from science fiction and fantasy to literary fiction and prose poetry. It’s free to download in a variety of digital formats (HTML, EPUB, MOBI, and via Apple iBooks).

Table of Contents:

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Foreword
  • Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, Editors’ Introduction
  • Monarch Blue, by Barbara Litkowski
  • The Last Grand Tour of Albertine’s Watch, by Sandra K. Barnidge
  • Half-Eaten Cities, by Vajra Chandrasekera
  • Darkness Full of Light, by Tony Dietz
  • Luna, by David Samuel Hudson
  • Tuolumne River Days, by Rebecca Lawton
  • The Most Beautiful Voyage in the World, by Jean McNeil
  • Orphan Bird, by Leah Newsom
  • The Office of Climate Facts, by Mitch Sullivan
  • Losing What We Can’t Live Without, by Jean-Louis Trudel
  • About the Contributors
  • Honorable Mention: 2018 Contest Semifinalists

(5) HUGO VOTER ELIGIBILITY. Dublin 2019 is fixing this –

(6) MY KINGDOM FOR CANON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Retcons are king. Or kinda want to be. The Daily Dot stares into the abyss at the changing look of Klingons over the various Star Trek series and movies—and especially the significant changes between the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery  (“Here’s Why the Klingons Look Different in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2”).

In the grand tradition of sci-fi retcons, there’s a canon explanation for the Klingons’ new look. While the humanoid Original Series Klingons were retroactively explained as victims of a genetic diseaseDiscovery’s bald Klingons [in season 1] were apparently making a fashion statement.

According to actress Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), designer Glenn Hetrick decided that the Klingons weren’t “bald” in season one—they just shaved their heads. Speaking at New York Comic Con last year, Chieffo said Hetrick was inspired by the Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir.”

“There is a reference to when [legendary Klingon hero] Kahless is brought back as a clone. The way he proves himself is he tells the story of how he cut off a lock of his hair and dipped it into a volcano and made the first bat’leth, with which he killed Molor, the terrible tyrant who was running Qo’noS at the time. We took that one little beautiful seed… and kind of expanded on that, and we see that in a time of war the Klingons would shave their heads, and in a time of peace, we start to grow it back out. I really love the symbolism of that.”

Meanwhile, ScreenRant.com has a different take on the whole, um, different Klingon thing (“Star Trek Theory: Discovery Is Why The Original Series Klingons Look Different”).

Star Trek: Discovery could finally explain one of the franchise’s biggest discrepancies: why do the Klingons in The Original Series look human? The answer might be the former Starfleet Lieutenant Ash Tyler, who is the surgically altered Klingon named Voq.

[…] It’s possible Star Trek: Discovery season 1’s transformation of Voq into Ash Tyler is the forerunner to why the Klingons Captain Kirk faced in The Original Series didn’t have the ridged brows and wild hair of later Klingons. Voq was the former Torchbearer of T’Kuvma who underwent surgery to become human in a horrifically painful process that damaged his mind. His lover L’Rell oversaw the procedure to turn Voq into Ash Tyler, a Starfleet Lieutenant who was captured during the Battle at the Binary Stars. Voq ended up believing he really was Ash and fell in love with Michael Burnham but his inner Klingon kept fighting his way to the forefront.

[…] By the time Captain Kirk faced the Klingons for the first time in the Star Trek: The Original Series’ episode “Errand of Mercy”, the warrior race looked and behaved human, albeit with darker, exotic skin. Kor, the Klingon Commander, even told Kirk “our races aren’t so different”. He meant that both humans and Klingons are war-like species, but his words could also now have a deeper context: the Klingons have 24 Great Houses and it’s possible this group of Klingons underwent the same (perfected) procedure that turned Voq into Ash Tyler.

(7) CELEBRATORY YEAR. “150 years of the periodic table: Test your knowledge”. I scored 5 for 5 – how unusual!

You’ll find it on the wall of nearly every school chemistry laboratory in the land.

And generations of children have sung the words, “hydrogen and helium, lithium, beryllium…” in an attempt to memorise some of the 118 elements.

This year, the periodic table of chemical elements celebrates its 150th birthday.

…The United Nations has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table to celebrate “one of the most significant achievements in science”.

In March, it will be 150 years since the Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, took all of the known elements and arranged them into a table.

Most of his ideas have stood the test of time, despite being conceived long before we knew much about the stuff that makes up matter.

On Tuesday, the year will be officially launched in Paris. So, what’s so special about this iconic symbol of science?


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 79. Yes, you know her as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate but that’s hardly genre, do shall we see what she done in our area of interest? Her first such work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives –scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife” episode. I did debate if the I should could I count Alfred Hitchcock Presents aa genre or not as she did an episode there as well.
  • Born January 29, 1977 Justin Hartley, 42. Performer in the series as Green Arrow and Oliver Queen characters, season six on. Also director of the “Dominion” episode and the writer of the “Sacrifice” episode on that series. He’s also Arthur “A.C.” Curry in the unsold Aquaman television pilot. The latter is up on YouTube here. He’s also lead cast in a web series called Gemini Division.
  • Born January 29, 1978 Catrin Stewart, 31. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was friends with Madame Vastra and Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of Nineteen Eighty-Four done at London Playhouse several years back. 


  • Frank and Ernest encounter a superhero with a not very pleasant power.
  • Not everybody gets off the ground at Hogwarts according to Berkeley Mews.
  • A super warning about the cold and flu season at Off the Mark.

(10) ELGIN AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association is taking nominations for the Elgin Award through May 15. Charles Christian will be the 2019 Elgin Awards Chair.

Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to how many they can nominate, but they may not nominate their own work. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative poetry books and chapbooks published in 2017 and 2018 to [email protected] by mail to the SFPA secretary: Renee Ya, P.O. Box 2074, San Mateo, CA 94401 USA. Books and chapbooks that placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in last year’s Elgin Awards are not eligible.

(11) FOREVER YOUNG. A young Captain Picard steps up alongside a bunch of  Italian Renaissance turtles and other, um, beloved characters (SYFY Wire: “Exclusive: Young Captain Picard commands the U.S.S. Stargazer in Star Trek: IDW 20/20 one-shot”).

IDW Publishing’s big 20th anniversary celebration rolls on this month as the mini-major refreshes five of their major licensed titles with a time-traveling series of oversized one-shot releases. 

The January party sparkles with some of pop culture’s most treasured properties as GhostbustersJem and the Holograms, My Little Pony, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uncover characters’ secrets and mysteries shot 20 years into the future or tugged back to the past.

(12) RUN, CAT, RUN! Camestros Felapton has the news — “Shock billionaire spoiler candidate enters presidential race”.

Timothy the Talking Cat, billionaire CEO of publishing multinational “Cattimothy House” entered the 2020 Presidential fray, with a shock announcement on Tuesday. At a book launch in Borstworth Library, the outspoken cat and business guru laid out his vision for a new kind of US President.

(13) NEW BENNETT NOVELLA DISCUSSED. Several star reviewers from Nerds of a Feather participate in “Review Roundtable: Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett”.

CONTENT WARNING: This review discusses gun violence throughout, and includes references to child death. Also, we’re discussing the whole novella, so BEWARE SPOILERS.

Vigilance, the new novella from Robert Jackson Bennett, is out today and it’s a searing look at gun violence in the US. In this near future dystopia, John McDean is tasked with running “Vigilance”, the nation’s favourite reality programme, which releases real shooters are released on unsuspecting locations with military-grade armaments, and the resulting carnage is broadcast as a “lesson” in how to protect oneself. McDean and his crew at ONT station think they have the variables of Vigilance down to a fine art, but in the novella’s ensuing escalation find themselves taken down by one of McDean’s own blindspots, to dramatic effect.

We’ve got a lot of Bennett fans on our team here at Nerds of a Feather and when this novella came to our attention, lots of us were interested in reading it to review. That’s why, instead of taking it on alone, today I, Adri, am joined by Paul Weimer, Brian, and Joe Sherry to unpack Bennett’s highly topical novella and our reactions to it.

(14) MARKET UPDATE. Coming over the air now —

(15) PREY WITHOUT CEASING. We linked to the trailer yesterday, now The Hollywood Reporter explains it all to you: “How ‘Birds of Prey’ Footage Builds on ‘Suicide Squad’ Look”.

Margot Robbie’s next take on Harley Quinn is steeped in ’80s music video sensibilities. Gotham City’s newest protectors have arrived. Tuesday morning, following an Instagram post by Margot Robbie teasing her return as Harley Quinn, Warner Bros. released the first official behind-the scenes look at Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The first look teases viewers with quick glimpses of the main characters, who, alongside Robbie’s Harley Quinn, are comprised of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). Birds of Prey follows the events of Suicide Squad and finds Gotham City in a very different place following an apparent disappearance of Batman, and Quinn’s separation from the Joker. Harley finds herself on a continued path of redemption when she seeks to help a young girl, Cassandra Cain, escape the wrath of Black Mask by recruiting a force of Gotham heroines.

(16) OUT OF TIME. Vicky Who Reads makes it sound irresistible: “Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (DRC): An Amazing Adult Sci-Fi Novel with Strong Family Themes”. Her review begins….

Kin Stewart used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Now, stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

(17) FROG STUFFING. Jon Del Arroz’ Happy Frogs lists are callbacks to what JDA thinks were the good old days of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. How much pull does he actually have? We’ll know if any of these names from “The Happy Frogs Hugo Award list” [Internet Archive link] show up on the 2019 ballot. (Well, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if David Weber got a nod for Best Series on his own – but that still leaves the rest of them.)

(18) WHERE FEW HAVE GONE. After five decades it’s hard to believe, but newly uncovered (or rediscovered) wide-format footage and uncatalogued audio was available as the basis for a new Apollo 11 documentary. Rolling Stone has the story of the doc plus a trailer (“‘Apollo 11’ Trailer: See Never-Before-Seen Footage From NASA’s Moon Mission”).

New footage from the lead-up to NASA’s first manned trip to the moon (and the landing itself) features in the upcoming documentary Apollo 11, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names,” distribution company Neon said of the film.

“Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.”

(19) LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT BROADWAYCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] On “Three on The Aisle:  Broadway Cosplay” at Americantheatre.org, Elisabeth Vincentelli gives a BroadwayCon report, which begins at sixteen minutes into the podcast and ends at 34 minutes.  She did see some cosplayers, such as a woman from West Virginia who sat on a bus wearing her costume as the Angel from Angels in America, and she occasionally did see fans wanting to get too close to the stars (which in the theatre world is known as “stagedooring.”)  But she also appreciated the substantive panels, such as one on Oklahoma where cast members sang songs they didn’t sing on stage, and noted that BroadwayCon is important enough that stars like Kristen Chenoweth show up there unannounced. Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout said he wanted to go next year and that “A critic incapable of being a fan is a critic that needs therapy.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

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66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/29/19 Dill Pixels

  1. 17) What is Alex Ross doing on his list? Alex is definitely left of center including having done several anti-Bush II T-shirt’s including one of him as a vampire sucking democracy dry.


  2. (17) FROG STUFFING.

    That Hoyt retcon of the entire Puppy history belongs in a Fiction category.

  3. (1) TIPTREE ON TV?

    I think this sounds like it could be really awesome. The fact that Kent is so personally enthuiastic about her subject matter is a good sign.

  4. JJ says That Hoyt retcon of the entire Puppy history belongs in a Fiction category.

    I got as far as the third paragraph before I gave up in disgust. Did it ever occur to her that people like to hang out with other people that that they like and just share common values with be it in person or in places like here? Invoking phrasing like “diaper babies”, leftists” and such makes me sure I don’t want to be anywhere near her!

  5. gottacook says Paddy Chayefsky was born in 1923, not 1932.

    You’re right. My post-death head trauma brain sometimes doesn’t deal well with numbers. You should see how it deals with the matter of bud schedules and paying bills over the phone. It can be a horror show.

    Mike, please fix.

  6. (8) Vastra and Jenny were rather more intimate than “friends”, unless that’s a new euphemism I’m unaware of (I never bother reading the memos). Adding Strax to this circle hints at a Victorian ménage a trois, which I doubt even Steven Moffat would try introducing.

  7. @Steve Green: I don’t remember which episode now but there’s a wonderful bit where Madame Vastra introduces Jenny and herself: “I’m a lizard woman from the dawn of time and this is my wife.”

  8. @7: gah, I cut a piece off the link I sent you; there’s a different (maybe harder) quiz (and more info about the table and the year) here. The link in @7 is an interesting find.

  9. I finished C.J. Cherryh’s Hellburner and will be starting Downbelow Station, so the Alliance/Union reread continues apace.

    I also rewatched First Man, which I think was a pretty great film, and in a strange way it kind of reminded me of Cherryh, what with the extremely tight, almost claustrophobic focus and the occasional moments of utter disorientation (as in the Gemini when it goes into an uncontrolled spin and most of what you see is the rapidly shaking instrument panels inside the spacecraft as Armstrong tries to wrestle it back under control).

  10. Steve Green says Vastra and Jenny were rather more intimate than “friends”, unless that’s a new euphemism I’m unaware of (I never bother reading the memos). Adding Strax to this circle hints at a Victorian ménage a trois, which I doubt even Steven Moffat would try introducing.

    I knew that. I just wanted to see how long it would take for one of you to comment that I hadn’t mentioned it (grin). Strax and his race are cloned if I remember correctly, I doubt that sex is something they even think of.

  11. For some reason, my parents (who weren’t normally interested in genre novels) owned Paddy Chayefsky’s Altered States in book form, although his screen credit was a pseudonym, “Sidney Aaron” (his actual first and middle names), apparently because of disagreements with Ken Russell during production. Has anyone else here seen the novel version?


    Gotta say; much as I love a good gripe about Discovery, I’m bored to tears about complaints/nitpicks about “Klingons looking different.” Effects, budgets and prosthetics have all improved since 1967. For DISCO, rights on the visuals were apparently also a thing.

    If you can’t suspend belief over production values getting better over a fifty-year span… well, you’re going to have a hard time enjoying a fifty-year-old franchise. Bending yourself into pretzels over “Well maybe this one guy who underwent horrific surgery inspired literally all of them to do it” is not going to get you to a healthy place.

    (Not that the show’s helping, with their “OMG the fans want an explanation we must pretend this actually makes absolute sense!”)

    The Trek thinkpieces I want to see aren’t why DISCO’s Klingons look different; it’s why they went from a crafty honor-obsessed warrior culture to being a bunch of generic space orcs. Tell me when we get some snippets of that. :-/

    Is “Happy Frogs” Del Arroz’s? The byline says Declan Finn.

  13. Standback said: The Trek thinkpieces I want to see aren’t why DISCO’s Klingons look different; it’s why they went from a crafty honor-obsessed warrior culture to being a bunch of generic space orcs.

    They can wait in line after the ones that explain how the cunning and underhanded Space Mongols turned into extras from a bad heavy metal music video.

    I remember one of the first fan reviews I read of Star Trek the Motion picture said that the actual analysis of the plot and characters would have to wait until later, because she was so outraged at what they’d done to “her” Klingons. What the hell happened to their foreheads? And what self respecting Klingon would charge an alien probe like idiots? IIRC, her review of the Klingons in Search for Spock was even more scathing. And there were all kinds of fan theories to explain the sudden appearance of the not-bright, not-subtle, Notourklingons.

    And so the cycle of seasons continues, with a new generation of critics. Frankly, if Trek fandom can stand Klingons being turned into Brian Blessed parodies by Next Gen, then it can handle yet another change.

  14. From the DS9 “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode

    Odo: Mr. Worf.
    Worf: They are Klingons. And, it is a long story.
    O’Brien: What happened? Genetic engineering?
    Bashir: A viral mutation?
    Worf: We do not discuss it with outsiders!

  15. 17) What is Alex Ross doing on his list?

    Perhaps he couldn’t think of any MAGA artists? Though wasn’t he doing a comic for Teddy Beale?
    Alex Ross strikes me as a chuckle candidate, though I’m not sure he broke much new ground in 2018. Enough to qualify, sure, but Astro City covers and concept art is probably not enough.

  16. Re: Klingons and Retcons

    There’s also these two episodes from Star Trek: Enterprise.

    ETA: Should anyone truly wish to nominate Alex Ross for something, there’s an art book category this year, yes? Marvelocity has a 2018 publication date and is a retrospective of Alex Ross’ Marvel artwork.

  17. I’ve never seen a convincing disproof of my pet theory about Klingons and their foreheads: Macho Engineering. For many decades, the interior doors in their ships and dwellings were low, jagged, and irregular, and the automatic opening mechanism was often slow to fully engage. You go through those enough times and you’ll look like that too. They finally managed to overcome the stubborn pride that kept them saying, “And we LIKE it!” and began putting saner doorways in their new construction.

    Andrew: That’s a good one!

    I will some day redraw one of my entries for a sketch-a-thon (it got sold), of a Klingon in a tux with silk hat and cane, declaring “It is a good day to DANCE!”

    (The other one I recall from that day shows a young man with round spectacles and a white streak in his hair crumpling in sudden pain, with the title Harry Potter and the Kidney Stone.)

  18. Standback: “Gotta say; much as I love a good gripe about Discovery, I’m bored to tears about complaints/nitpicks about “Klingons looking different.” Effects, budgets and prosthetics have all improved since 1967.”

    Recently, as background TV for Hilde’s breakfast snack and pills, we’ve had one of the “Classic TV” channels on. I had forgotten (or just never realized it at the time of original broadcast) just how friggin’ dreadful most of 60’s and 70’s tv series drama was. Among the things I’ve noticed:

    — Cheesy, obvious set decoration. No one ever seems to have any mess or clutter in their living space, and the stuff that is there seems lifted straight from a furniture store display or a model home.

    — Flat lighting and cinematography. It’s as if the filmmaker would be charged extra if they included shadows or natural light.

    — Almost everything is shot from a static, shoulder-level viewpoint. Very little camera movement. (God bless the Steadicam! When was that invented?)

    — Lots of stock footage.

    — Green screen shots have pretty obvious borders, and are rarely well-matched in color and lighting to the background.

    — There’s a palpable feel that, in the trio of “fast, good, and cheap”, it’s “good” that’s least important. “Good enough for television” seems to be the standard, and it’s pretty low.

    — Storylines are old, stale and stiff. Some actors do the best they can under the conditions and with the lines they’re given to say; others do a GEFTV performance. (William Katt in Greatest American Hero has some charisma going for him; Robert Culp, who I usually like, sleepbarks his way thru his role.)

    Part of the problem may come from the shift from 30-minute drama series in the 50’s to the hour-long format in the 60’s. (Watching Fifties’ series like Paladin has been a lot more satisfying.) Shooting twice the amount of film in the same amount of time had to create just a bit of pressure on television creatives. (Seasons were also longer, some still doing 39 episodes a year.)

  19. @gottacook, I read a library copy of “Altered States” long ago, when it was newish. I don’t remember much about it. I think I would have recognized Chayefsky’s name because I think I read “Marty” in high school, for some reason.

  20. 6) So T’Kuvma, Voq, L’Rell and the others are just shaved bald? They’ve shaved those heads – those elaborately spined, ridged and whorled heads? No wonder they’re cranky.

    I agree with others… it would be all very well to say it’s just down to better prosthetics, that the Klingons always had Cornish pasties on their heads but the makeup department couldn’t realize it – if the show itself hadn’t explicitly addressed the issue, within its own continuity.

    Personally, I think the original Star Trek did a bloody good job, within its budgetary and technical limitations, of trying to look interesting, convincing and solidly realized. Tricks like the coloured indirect lighting, to add detail and visual interest to what were otherwise blank matte-painted plywood flats, helped a lot.

    And no, they didn’t have Steadicam, or seamless CSO, or any of a number of tricks we take for granted today…. and I always think they had to consider the limitations of the receivers, too. Yes, William Shatner looks like he’s over-acting when you see him on a flat-screen TV the size of the Enterprise‘s viewscreen – but I first saw Star Trek on a black and white 405-line display with a screen not much bigger than the one on my laptop now, and believe me, the guy needed to act broadly if he was going to come over as more than a vague blob with a Canadian accent. You have to work with what you’ve got.

  21. @ Bruce Arthurs:

    Not sure when it was invented, but apparently first used for Bound for Glory which was released in 1976. Wikipedia just says “introduced to the industry in 1975”.

  22. Tomorrow, January 31, is National Gorilla Suit Day.

    I have my copy of Don Martin Bounces Back at the ready, and will refrain from spoiling the occasion by reading it early. Really, I will.

    I expect Mark Evanier’s blog, “News From ME” to cover this. I only hope we are operating from similar calendars. (I am about 100% sure he doesn’t have the UP calendar my sister makes and sells.)

    Have a safe and happy one, won’t you? I hear those things can be warm inside.

    Louis Moreau Godstalk

  23. #17 – Meg???? Seriously?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Black Panther eligible this year? I mean, it’s cleaning up at all the ‘conventional’ awards shows, like Golden Globes and the SAG awards. High hopes for an Oscar, even.

    He’s just punkin’ us…

  24. Has Alex Ross any work in 2018? I only found via a fastcheck work in 2017.
    Generell speaking a hugonom for him or for Weber would not suprise me that much (if they are eligtable). Rest of the iteams on the scrappyslate are between never heard of and nope not those guy.

  25. @Bruce Arthurs: I recall the transition to what we thought of as theatrical-film-style TV production, with non-flat lighting, more fluid camera handling, less of a set-bound feel, and faster cutting. “M*A*S*H” and “Hill Street Blues” were notable. And lighting and color might have been the most immediately noticeable, with our new Trinitron telly. Even some of the set-bound sitcoms looked more natural, especially the MTM bunch. Come to think of it, even movies changed from the Fifties–when we watch color films it’s especially hard to miss–partly a matter of the lighting demands of color film of the period. (Technicolor was supposed to require pretty hot lighting, not unlike early TV cameras.)

    I’m sure that someone can offer chapter and verse on the equipment that made a lot of this possible–for film production, I recall credits for Arriflex cameras. And I do recall (somewhat fuzzily) the Bound for Glory crane/Steadicam shot, along with the then-amazing dust-storm sequence. (The Wikipedia Steadicam article brought back memories of wow moments in various movies. Funny how persistent visual memory can be.)

  26. It’s managed to climb all the way up to -15°F (that is -25.5°C) outside. Practically tropical, given where the day started… (-23°F; -30.5°C). Of course, that’s not factoring in the 30mph winds which bring the wind chill down to -50 or worse (both scales…)

    Fortunately, my office has everyone working from home today. Which is good, because I’d wager a good half the employees’ cars won’t start anyway…

  27. (8) Anton Chekhov was born 1/29/1860. A dramatist, he originated “Chekhov’s Law”: If a blaster appears in the first act of a play, it must be fired before the play is over.
    And Edward Abbey was born 1/29/1927. I was going to write something about him, but somehow my notes got all monkey-wrenched.

  28. (1). This sounds like a really interesting way of introducing TIptree’s life and fiction to people unfamiliar with either. I wonder how Kent will present TIptree’s murder of her husband?

  29. @gottacook: I read Altered States before the movie came out; I thought it was bad enough that none of the pans the movie got surprised me. I read some reviews out of curiosity; I planned not to see the movie, as IME it’s possible to ruin a good book on film but almost impossible to make a good movie out of a bad book.

    @Rose Embolism: I wonder what your reviewer was thinking of; AFAIK, The Final Reflection (1984) was the first story to make the Klingons less than cartoons.

    @Kip Williams: ah yes, the David Gerrold principle (cf “Klingons build their battle cruisers without toilets; it makes them nastier.”)

    @Bruce Arthurs: AFAIK, 60’s TV shows were done on film, with blue screen, rather than video with green screen; I think this is true of 1970’s also, but the Wikipedia article on chroma keying is chary with dates. There was certainly a good-enough attitude — I remember Dykstra being unhappy about the theatrical release of the opener of the original Battlestar Galactica because the effects he did assumed low-res TV transmission rather than film-to-eye.
    Also, ISTM that there’s more money spent now. Gerrold said (in the book the above comes from, ~50 years ago) that OST had a budget of $180K per episode, which might be $2M now by simple inflation but is a lot less given the lower cost of tech. (It’s still less than the $15M each episode of the last-season GoT is reported to cost, but I figure that’s an outlier.) No, I don’t know where the money is coming from.

    @Nancy Sauer: how do you think it should be treated?

  30. @Chip Hitchcock: I watch extremely little TV, and it’s hard for me to imagine how Kent’s blend of reality and fiction will work on the screen–so it would be out of line for me to suggest a particular method. But given the general amnesia regarding TIptree’s husband’s murder I can’t help but be curious what Kent will do.

  31. @Nancy Sauer–I find it fascinating that you speak only of “her murder of her husband,” while never mentioning his health, her health, her depression and previous suicidal thoughts and behavior, or her own suicide.

    It’s all relevant. It wasn’t a straight up act of murder, in isolation. It was quite a bit more complex than that, and both better mental health care, and better social services, could have altered the outcome.

  32. @Lis Carey

    I believe that comes under “cool motive, still murder”, especially since the context you speak of includes a long, long history of disabled people being murdered because of their health, often by the people they should have been able to trust. However justified the murderer may have felt, or however complex the other factors may have been, the victims were still murdered.

  33. almost impossible to make a good movie out of a bad book

    WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? is an excellent movie, and as I’ve said elsewhere, the book was four ounces of potential wrapped in ten pounds of creaky conceits explained at a length that makes the first couple Harry Potter books look like masterpieces of concision.

    The fact that most movies have to throw away bushels of a book’s substance worked in its favor this time. They tossed the boring stuff and made their own movie based on the 3″ x 5″ card worth of high concept that was left.

  34. @Meredith–I’m not saying it wasn’t murder, or that it was correct. I’m saying leaving out the surrounding facts–her health, his health, her mental and suicidal tendencies, misrepresents what happened in a way that seems dishonest. I think the major factor was her depression and suicidal tendencies. His health and her health seem far less likely to have ended in the murder-suicide if her mental health had been properly treated.

    And Nancy didn’t even mention her suicide at all, leaving room for lots of false impressions about the facts of what happened, and no suggestion at all that this might not have been straightforward Evil.

  35. Re: Tiptree. Perhaps I’m cynical, but the question I want to ask is: are we keen to bring up the murder because we want to push back against ableist attitudes and mental health stigma that encourage us to find excuses for it, or are we looking for sticks with which to beat Tiptree for being a writer of feminist SF?

  36. This may be how Alice Sheldon’s killing of her husband will be handled:

    Sept. 3, 2006

    To the Editor:

    Dave Itzkoff’s review of Julie Phillips’s “James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon” (Aug. 20) has shown your readers a fragment of the conundrum that was Alice Sheldon, but could have shed far more light on that enigmatic author. Perhaps I can help. I was a friend of Sheldon and her second husband for the last 13 years of their lives (dating from well before the truth about James Tiptree was exposed).

    Itzkoff correctly notes that Sheldon was a C.I.A. agent (though he neglects to mention that Huntington Sheldon, her husband, was with the agency as well). In fact, it was during her three years there that Sheldon learned how to create a false identity, including how to acquire the Social Security number she used as “James Tiptree,” thus ensuring that Tiptree’s royalty checks could never be traced to her.

    Itzkoff’s review implies that Alice’s suicide was mandated by the mercy killing of her husband; she was technically guilty of Huntington’s murder. The truth is more complicated. Ting Sheldon was in constant pain, but with no imminent hope of natural death when Alice shot him dead, phoned her lawyer with instructions to notify the police, then shot herself while holding hands with her beloved husband. In a 1980 interview (published in Charles Platt’s “Dream Makers”), Sheldon revealed that she had struggled against suicidal urges since her childhood. The handwritten suicide note found beside her corpse in 1987 had been written years earlier; she had carefully saved it until she was ready to use it.

    F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

    New York

  37. Re: the Tiptree murder, if she’d botched her own suicide after the killing (highly unlikely, considering the method and her determination, but supposing it anyway) I’d guess she’d have had a fair shot at a claim of temporary insanity due to her significant history of severe depression – if she’d wanted to make such a plea. I doubt she would have, though.

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